Thursday, December 24, 2015

Stuffed Rolls: or, When you know your plates are about to be packed up

It's moving time here at A Book of Cookrye! Yep, it's that time when once again we change addresses, as everyone who lives in a dorm must do from time to time. This means for at least a full day, we will have no cooking utensils of any form and most of our food will be in bags where we hope it doesn't melt while out of the refrigerator. We do, however, have the leftovers.

Incidentally, the grilled peppers were so good.

Partially to make sure we didn't go hungry while packing and schlepping, and partially as an excuse not to have to pack yet, we are making...
Stuffed Rolls
½ c shortening*
1¼ c milk
½ c sugar
2 envelopes yeast
4-6 c flour
½ c sugar
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Finely chopped leftover meats and vegetables

Heat the milk and shortening until melted. You can do it on the stove stirring constantly, but microwaving it will be a lot easier and you won't be trying to keep the milk from burning in the pot. Cool to 120°-130°.
Mix 1½ c flour, the sugar, the salt, and the yeast. Add the milk and shortening, mix thoroughly. Add the egg and beat well. Then add the remaining flour-the dough should be sticky and barely firm enough to knead. In fact, it may just feel like you're stretching goop in your hands more than kneading dough. But keep going until it's smooth and elastic.
Knead until smooth, it should be about 3 minutes. Then let it rise until doubled in size. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Have a clean, floured surface ready.
Thoroughly coat the dough in flour and roll it out to a quarter-inch thick rectangle. Cut it into 5-6" squares. For each square, dip your finger in water and wet the edges (this will make it easier to close). Place a firmly-packed portion of your filling on it. Bring the corners of the dough to the center and pinch together. Pinch the four seams closed. Place on a well-greased cookie sheet seam-side down.
Let them rise, then bake at 350° for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.

*We had no shortening and used butter instead- they came out just fine.
SPJST 100th Anniversary Cookbook, 1997

Yep, we're taking all our leftovers and casing them in bread so we don't even need a plate. You may recognize the bread recipe from when we made the garlic rolls. As a recipe note, we ran out of shortening and it turns out butter works just fine.
It's odd how this looks almost tidy.

You may be wondering why we are choosing now, when we have so much packing to do, to spend the better part of a night making bread. Well, for one we find it comforting. We also had Fractured Fairy Tales playing on the laptop the whole time. Spending a good long time in the kitchen getting messy and watching Rocky and Bullwinkle clips was just the thing for when one's burnt out and can't stagger forward any more.
Fractured Fairy Tales are awesome.

We also wanted to be able to eat without having to stop work and get a plate. We figured we'd be slowing ourselves down enough without having to completely stop every time we got hungry.
Check out the repair job someone did on the toaster oven handle.

And now, this is the point where this as a time-saving way to eat will make sense. First, we take the leftovers and do this.
It's been too long since we got out the meat grinder anyway.

Those of you who are interested in food history will be interested to know that portable pies- that is, taking your food and putting it in a bread case small enough to hold in your hands- have been independently invented in every culture in all parts of the world. In some cultures, you wrap it in dough sheets and fry it (lumpia, egg rolls), other people use flatbread (wraps, burritos), elsewhere you find people cooking things in cases of pie crust, and some places (like we're doing today) you put it in bread dough and have what look like oversized rolls once they're baked.  But everyone at some point took their native version of bread and put stuff in it.

This is actually a homemade version of what a lot of people do: buy canned  crescent roll dough, chop up your leftovers, wrap and bake.
Looks oddly pretty, doesn't it?

You'd be amazed at what you can get away with cooking like this. One person who does this to clear out the fridge at home once ended up making rolls stuffed with a finely chopped combination of salad coated in ranch dressing, roast, potatoes, the last leavings of Chinese delivery, and green beans. Believe it or not, they came out fine. This time, we are using the remains of a cookout and meat cooked in a lot of curry powder. Heck, we even put in the bell peppers that got completely blackened and charred on the grill. What would taste like nastiness and burnt if you just ate one added the sort of outdoorsy flavor you normally have to earn by standing outside getting the smell of smoke permanently embedded in your clothes when suffused and dispersed among the ingredients,.
I don't know if it's making a kissy face or if it just sucked a lemon.

If you're aesthetically minded, you may be looking at these once you've pressed them together and wondering how to stop them from coming out of the oven with weird deformed ridges. Or, if you're more practical minded, you may be thinking "But won't they just come right back open as they're rising?"
This is actually one of the very few that came out regular looking. Most of them had weird ridges going every random way.
The answer: You just put them seam side down, squishing that dough lump in the center flat as you press them down, and they'll come out looking just fine.
See? They're not inbred stegosaurus rolls at all.

I know it's a redundant statement because all bread looks good by definition, holy snizzbat these came out pretty.

Now, ordinarily you'd put these on a baking rack when you take the out of the oven because the bottoms of them come out a bit damp- and no one likes a soggy bottom. However, we at A Book of Cookrye left our drying rack in our summer house, so we had to go with the shortcut (that also removes one thing from the pile of dishes to wash).
The rolls look like they're cavorting on the countertop.

I could be annoyed at the fact that the oven rack stamped the bottom of these, but why not be poetic and think of them as craft marks? (Incidentally, that's the best way to think of most errors in cooking. Cracked cake? Weird-shaped cookies? Burnt chicken? It's all craft marks or, failing that, homemade charm.)
See? The seams are barely visible.

In conclusion, we at A Book of Cookrye recommend these as a great way to turn leftovers into lunches you don't even need to get a plate and fork for. It's your meat, vegetables, and bread all in one go.


  1. I had totally forgotten about Fractured Fairy Tales! Not much on cooking personally, I use a bread maker.

    1. I'm glad to have inadvertently reminded you! They're one of my favorite parts of the Bullwinkle show.
      I like cooking a lot. Especially after spending so much time tied to a keyboard, it's nice to work with my hands and create things.